'Do I desire unreasonably much in wanting what is called life - music, poetry, passion, war, and all the beating and pulsing that is going on in the great arteries of the world?'
Tempestuous Eustacia Vye passes her days dreaming of passionate love and the escape it may bring from the small community of Egdon Heath. Hearing that Clym Yeobright is to return from Paris, she sets her heart on marrying him, believing that through him she can leave rural life and find fulfilment elsewhere. But she is to be disappointed, for Clym has dreams of his own, and they have little in common with Eustacia's. Their unhappy marriage causes havoc in the lives of those close to them, in particular Damon Wildeve, Eustacia's former lover, Clym's mother and his cousin Thomasin. The Retun of the Native illustrates the tragic potential of romantic illusion and how its protagonists fail to recognize their opportunities to control their own destinies.